Summary:Varanim and Zahara seal the Lord's Crossing shadowland, and encounter a horrifying hekaton.

XP:I4, V4, Z4


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Warm winds blow through the streets of the Shadowland as the Solars ready themselves to act.

The city of Lord's Crossing was once a busy and beauteous metropolis, a favorite of those amongst the Realm who sought the pleasures of bountiful urban life over the maneuverings and jockeyings of life in the Imperial City.

But all that changed during the Eclipse, when the woman who had once sworn to defend this city turned the full wrath of the ancient Deliberative's power upon it, and slew every one of its citizens in an instant.

Now, the remnants of that horrific deed still litter the city's ruins: vast and jagged rose bushes of sharp-edged iron stretch up from the ground, human bones decorating them like grotesque flowers; gutters in white-stone-paved streets are dyed ruddy brown from the rivers of blood that flowed through them that day;

carts lay overturned and split open in the streets, the remnants of their beasts of burden on one side and their riders on the other; banshees shriek and howl from the upper windows in unsootheable grief at their own tragic destruction.

It is here that Varanim and Zahara find themselves today.

Varanim In her mind Varanim is finishing a fine structure of Essence, a knife to cut apart the bled-together worlds. Without opening her eyes she takes a long drink from her flask, tucks it back in a pocket, and stops humming. Reaching out to snatch the invisible coin spinning over her fingers, she pulls back the mask and slips it on. Then a slow hurricane of Essence begins to unfold from her.

zahara pulls her jade daiklave (currently clad in black iron with only the edge showing) from its sheath. Her other weapons lay scattered on the ground, here and there, looking as innocent as blackened blades can possibly look. ::Well now, I wonder how long it'll take before we're noticed...:: she says to the two with her.

Imrama From his vantage high above, Imrama watches for the first signs of trouble. Even at this great height, he, his crew and his ship move in complete silence. ::If you are offering a wager, my money will be on 'not very long'.:: Imrama raises and drops his left arm, the signal to open the gun ports, and point the barrels earthward.

Varanim ::I'll put it this way: how often am I subtle?:: There is a strange distant resonance in Varanim's mental voice, as there always is when she speaks through the mask.

As the power of the spell spills out from Varanim's form, the Essence of the world around them grows taut and electrified, as the very ground itself seems to immediately resist her efforts to drag it, kicking and screaming, back to the world of the living. Not very long, indeed:

for already, Imrama sees movements, shifts of darkness and swirls of motive Essence at the edges of the Shadowland that suggest some manner of creature has had its attention drawn.

zahara ::If it is a wager you wish, I think we should take bets on numbers or types of creepy crawlies.:: She grins, planting her sword in the dead earth before her. ::Or who ends up most wounded.:: She closes her eyes, already contemplating the further destruction of this place.

Imrama ::That last is no wager at all. The answer is assured: our enemies.::

The wind begins to blow harder, suddenly cooled from the hot summer winds that preceded just a moment ago; and on that breeze, the chatter of the truly damned, those who have given themselves over entirely to the abyss -- and then, a terrible sound, like a wet sack of meat being dragged across a wall of razor wire, intermittent and heaving, joins in.

Imrama ::Something wicked this way comes.::

zahara smiles again at imrama's quip and turns her attention towards the new, unsettling noises. ::Indeed. We had best be prepared.:: And so she too gives up the pretense of undeath, and allows her anima to catch fire.

Varanim Motes flicker out from Varanim, lighting up tangled threads of the Shroud that were invisible a moment before, sticking to those threads as more motes gust and roar among the spreading structure of red and gold and violet. In the quiet center, in the library of her mind, she pauses--her mouth continues chanting softly--to consider the question of a perhaps forgotten noise.

zahara x1;ACTION chants and gestures with infinite precision, the runes once spoken coalesce into essence, which rises as if on a heat wave, before drifting back down and melding with the golden tattooes on her skin. Within her veins the magic takes hold, glowing through her skin, the wrappings, the awkward dress. Fire. Her voice rises in the oh-so-familiar cadence and then she is silent for an ominous second, through which the disgusting noises drif

zahara the disgusting noises drift unopposed.

Varanim ::Huh. Zahara, you know how you take puppies you don't want, and drop them in a bag in the river? If you do that with the right sort of puppies, they grow up into a hekatonkhire.::

zahara ::Well... isn't that special. An undead monster drowned puppy...::

Varanim ::The Eight Most Dearly Departed, or Bag of Meat to its friends.::

Varanim ::Actually, I'm pretty sure it doesn't have any of those.::

As the noises grow louder, Imrama sees the beginnings of the forces arrayed against his friends break out from under the cover of darkness: the attenuated and distorted shapes of once-human spectres, twisted to insanity and hatred by the Abyss, pouring out from every side, and right at their heels from the South:

a great shape, amorphous, like a vast grey burlap sack, split and resewn into the vague shape of a hideous, quadripedal creature; from its surface, a thousand tiny rivulets of brilliant, faintly glowing red blood flow and splash, searing the ground beneath where they land;

and as its head, a vast, sun-bleached wolf's skull, two red-and-black glass orbs hung by black iron wire within its empty sockets and dark red stains across its muzzle and vicious, immense canines.

zahara ::I don't suppose you know how to kill at least 7 of the Eight Most Dearly?::

Varanim is unhelpfully quiet, but the golden tangle of her spell continues to spread.

zahara completes her spell with a sharp downward motion, then in a circle beyond the glistening mesh of ms. silent's spell, ten tentacles erupt from the ground, as it groans and quakes, scattering and shattering buildings.

Imrama Their presence now clearly made known, the reason for hiding the Fable is gone. Like the first flashes of morning sunlight, the mighty ship descends sharply, launching a volley of solar bolts at the canine abomination.

The ground shakes and rumbles under the assault of Zahara's tentacles, and the spectres stumble; the dead fall over, and are trampled by those who follow, or slip and vanish, their corporeal forms temporarily dissipated;

but the Bag of Meat suffers no such setback, and plows across the faltering spectres with hatred in its dead, inanimate eyes, shredding them to nothingness in its harsh pursuit of its quarry.

zahara A grim smile touches her lips, which thins as the hekatonkhire rumbles on. As it comes within reach of their flailing tendrils, the tentacles curl and flick forward with deceptive slowness, leaving molten trails of maga in their wake.

Imrama's cannon bolts and zahara's tentacles tear and rip at the vast creature, and where they tear open its canvas surface, jets of iridescent red blood arc out, setting the surrounding buildings ablaze as it coats their surfaces.

As it roars and batters against the tentacles with incredible anger, the first wave of spectres still standing moves past its bulky form and charges, inconceivably angry, towards Zahara.

zahara "Oh please, I only knocked you over. You were already covered in dirt and grime," she sighs, her blade tracing golden arcs through the air, fending them off

zahara , having blunted the attacks coming towards her, leaps forward with flashing attacks of her own. "I'm actually in a rather bad mood today, you know. I suspect you shouldn't have bothered coming."

Imrama Completing its descent, the Fable makes an abrupt turn, interposing itself between the Eight Most Dearly Departed and the two Solar wonder-workers. Imrama stands stoic on the deck, facing the great spectral beast. The ship's gun-ports close. Its captain draws his guns, and an avalanche of golden sunlight stones flies forth from their barrels.

As one, Imrama and Zahara strike at the great, horrific beast, Imrama's gouts of sunflame ripping through its surface and exposing the boiling, bubbling meat underneath, even as Zahara's flying swords cut into its amorphous limbs.

One eye knocked out, its great baggy skin sagging open and tearing further at the seams as the rotting flesh, glowing red blood, and thousands of tiny canine bones leak out from within, it raises its leaking limbs up in desperate strikes against its attackers.

zahara "I wasn't sure you could get any uglier, but it seems I was wrong." She waves the stench away with the flat of her blade, and incidentally deflects his attacks.

Varanim With a hundred eyes opening in a tower above them, Varanim misses nothing. Still she speaks, describing the shape of what is and what must be, and the golden threads in the world continue to spread. Over ground and air, spectre and torn bag-flesh, word by word the light seeps toward the edges of the Shadowland.

The creature rages and wails in utter hatred against the Solars who drew it out of the darkness, but like all that had gone before in both its life and death, it is all for naught; and after a few more empty gestures, its rage is spent and its skin splits open,

the meat within spewing out to coat the nearby walls and surfaces and the tiny souls bound within floating momentarily up from the wreckage before being whisked off on a Lethe-bound wind.

zahara wrinkles her nose, and turns to what spectres remain. She grins viciously. "Will your souls still go to Lethe when you die? Or will you be annihilated in the Void?"

Too twisted and hateful to listen, the spectres charge to their doom.

zahara meets them with a second peal of her bell, the sound echoing eerily in the deathly air. ::Varanim, dear, are you almost done?:: she asks, as swaths of spectres are assaulted by the tentacles

Varanim When motes have spread to every crevice of the Shadowland, between every pair of threads and in every fold of the Shroud, Varanim stretches out her left arm, loops a finger through one thread, and pulls. With a groan the whole thing unravels, flesh and spirit worlds peeling away from each other, and sunlight dust drifts down over everything.

Varanim "Interesting the first time," she sighs. "Now it's just another solved problem."

zahara "What will you do," she asks, flicking exploded guts off her shoulder, "when everything is solved?"

Varanim takes off the mask, and looks at Zahara oddly. "It's a secret."

zahara raises a brow. "Hmm. I'll have to wait and see then."

Imrama "Wondrous and surprising as this world is, Empress. I believe you will have a very long time to wait."

zahara "Aye, that is true." She gazes into the distance, already breathing a little more freely. "And there are so many that would not have us last long enough to see it."

zahara reaches behind her, releasing the wooden staff from its makeshift sheath on her back. She flips it over in her hands, feeling the deep age of the taproot it was carved from. "But from death, comes new life." And there, in the center of the circle of death she had wrought, the tentacles of magma waving lazily, she drives the staff deep into the ground.

zahara pauses for a moment, leaning on the staff, then paces to the border of the once-shadowland, tracing out the definition of new life and abundance. She honors each of the poles in turn, and in her wake a gentle breeze blows, picking up the ashes of the past and toying with them playfully.

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Page last modified on July 04, 2009, at 01:17 AM